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Tests: Opportunities For Learning



Ohanian Comment: From cadaver-based gross anatomy to "testing effect" expert. (See two bios below) Pearson says Dr. Gail Krovitz is the Director of Academic Training and Consulting for Pearson eCollege, where she directs the vision and application of training for schools using the Pearson LearningStudio and various other Pearson products. She also consults on best practices for online or blended learning, teaching with technology, and setting up online programs for success.

So what you see below is the results of "the vision and application" for schools.

Please, Sir, more tests.


By Gail Krovitz

Tests help students to learn.

Research on the Ă¢€œtesting effect" shows that taking a test goes beyond simply measuring acquired knowledge, and actually helps better prepare students to remember information than repeatedly studying or re-reading the same material.

In lab trials, one group of students studied a set of materials, was given a practice test, and later given a second test to see how well they remembered what they'd studied. A control group studied the same materials, but instead of taking the initial test they studied the materials a second time and then took a test. The results? The groups that took two tests consistently scored better than the groups that studied longer.

This compelling finding, established through numerous research studies that I have reviewed, at first seems confusing: how can taking a test actually beat studying? But it makes sense, if thought about in terms of learning the skills needed to perform a task: Practicing a skill during learning (taking a practice test) helps students perform better when being tested on that skill later (taking the follow up test). For example, if you want to learn to play tennis, practicing the game is of course more effective than reading about it.

In addition, research on how memory works shows that retrieving information during a test is not a passive process, but instead has an actual impact on the ability to retrieve that information in the future.

Additional studies that I analyzed suggest that if the initial test is short answer or essay format, there is a larger testing effect than if the initial test is multiple-choice; the follow-up test format does not seem to matter as much. However, multiple-choice tests do still show a strong testing effect.

Corroborating these lab findings, classroom studies demonstrate a significant testing effect as well. For example, a study looking at frequent quizzes given in a middle school science class found that these quizzes increased student performance on unit tests from 79 percent correct (for material not previously tested with a quiz) to more than 90 percent correct. And the quizzing effect lasted until the end of the semester test and the end of the school year test.

In a separate classroom study, one section of a psychology course included a test of four short answer questions at the end of each lecture period, while another section of the same class Ă¢€“ taught by the same professor Ă¢€“ did not use end of class tests. Students in the section using the end of class tests scored considerably higher on the final exams compared with students in the course not using the tests (mean score of 86 percent versus 78 percent).

These and many other studies demonstrate that in addition to serving as a lens into the classroom, or one measure of student performance, tests actually present proactive opportunities for learning and retention of information. Seen in this light, testing effect research adds an important layer of insight into tests as significant tools for academic growth and success.

For further information on the studies cited in this piece, see:

Butler, A.C., J.D. Karpicke, and H.L Roediger, III (2007). The effect of type and timing of feedback on learning from multiple-choice tests. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 13(4): 273-281.
Glenn, D. (2007). You will be tested on this. Chronicle of Higher Education 53(40): A14. Accessed online on January 10, 2012 at http://chronicle.com/article/You-Will-be-Tested-on-This/14732
Lyle, K.B. and N.A. Crawford (2011). Retrieving essential material at the end of lectures improves performance on statistics exams. Teaching of Psychology 38(2): 94-97.
McDaniel, M.A., and P.K. Agarwal (2011). Test-enhanced learning in a middle school science classroom: the effects of quiz frequency and placement. Journal of Educational Psychology 103(2): 399-414.
Roediger, H.L., III, and A.C.Butler(2011). The critical role of retrieval practice in long-term retention. Trends in Cognitive Science 15(1): 20-27.
Roediger, H.L., III, and J.D. Karpicke (2006a). Test-enhanced learning: taking memory tests improved long-term retention. Psychological Science 17(3): 249-255.
Roediger, H.L., III and J.D. Karpicke (2006b). The power of testing memory: basic research and implications for educational practice. Perspectives on Psychological Science 1(3): 181-210.
Butler, A.C., J.D. Karpicke, and H.L. Roediger, III (2007). The effect of type and timing of feedback on learning from multiple-choice tests. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 13(4): 273-281.

Gail E. Krovitz is Pearson Director of Academic Training & Consulting. According to Rutgers Continuing Studies, she received her B.A. from Vassar College, and Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. After completing her Ph.D., she carried out post-doctoral work at George Washington University and Penn State University. Gail has taught a variety of traditional classes, including undergraduate and graduate anthropology classes, high school biology, and cadaver-based gross anatomy for medical and physical therapy students. Most recently, Gail has been teaching online anthropology courses for University of Colorado at Denver and Colorado Community Colleges Online. Gail works as the Director of Academic Training and Consulting for Pearson eCollege.

This bio statement comes from New Media Consortium. Dr. Gail Krovitz is the Director of Academic Training and Consulting for Pearson eCollege, where she directs the vision and application of training for schools using the Pearson Learning Studio and various other Pearson products. She also consults on best practices for online or blended learning, teaching with technology, and setting up online programs for success. Gail has presented at a variety of eLearning conferences, including Sloan-C ALN and New Media Consortium. Gail received her Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and carried out post-doctoral work at George Washington University and Penn State University. Prior to her work at Pearson, Gail taught a variety of traditional classes, and she continues to teach online courses for CU Denver and Colorado Community Colleges Online.

— Gail Krovitz
The FWD.Pearson.com Daily

2012-07-21

http://fwd.pearson.com/2012/07/20/tests-opportunities-for-learning/

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